Access to and use of digital technologies has wide-ranging consequences for development. Digital technologies can be leveraged to increase access to opportunities and rights for migrants, boosting migration’s developmental benefits at the interface between migrants and host communities.

Yet unequal access means that these technologies can also increase inequalities. This theme focuses on leveraging digital technologies to address the inequalities associated with migration.

Our research examines:

  • The use of digital technologies by different groups and types of migrant in a range of geographical and policy contexts.
  • Migrant understandings of the relationships between migration and inequality accessed through a range of digital technologies.
  • Opportunities to work with migrants and digital developers to develop digital technologies that can be used to reduce inequalities.

MIDEQ’s research on this theme is led by Professor Hari Harindranath and Professor Tim Unwin who is the UNESO ICT4D Chair. Check out the ICT4D website

WP9 Digital technologies and inequality brief

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Overview of MIDEQ WP9 on digital technologies and inequality.

Research Context

Digital technologies are increasingly playing a key role in the migration journey from migrant decision making, orientation and route planning to eventual integration into host communities and connecting with those left behind. However, the use of digital technologies in the migration context harbours opportunities not only for good but also for harm. Digital technologies can be leveraged to increase access to opportunities and rights for migrants, boosting migration’s developmental benefits at the interface between migrants and host communities. Yet structural inequalities in migration contexts mean that access and use is almost always socially contingent often leading to new inequalities.

This intervention work package focuses on leveraging ICTs to address the inequalities associated with migration in a threefold manner: first, we want to learn from migrants in these corridors about the many very different ways in which they use digital technologies; second, we wish to explore with them how they understand notions of inequality within the migration process, and how they think technologies might be able to reduce them; and ultimately, we would like to work with migrants and digital developers in the corridor countries to develop one or more digital technology that can be used to reduce such inequalities. We are currently working in the following South-South migration corridors: Ethiopia-South Africa, Ghana-China, Haiti-Brazil and Nepal-Malaysia.

Our approach derives explicitly from six underlying principles: to work with migrants; to learn from migrants; to work with, support and learn from Hub colleagues in country corridors and other work packages; to focus specifically on helping to create technologies that reduce inequality; to involve migrants centrally in designing and creating any technological solutions; to help empower migrants.

Research Questions

  1. How and why do migrants, their families, intermediaries and employers currently use varying types of digital technologies?
  2. How do they understand notions of inequality, and what would their priorities be for using digital technologies to reduce these inequalities?
  3. How can we work together to implement such uses of digital technologies, thereby reducing inequalities associated with migration?

The Team

Professor G Hari Harindranath